Tuesday 22 September 2020

The new school year starts with face masks for some, not others: survey

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Around one in five secondary schools are requiring pupils to wear face masks or are advising them to do so, despite the official guidelines saying masks are not necessary, a survey by broadcaster NOS shows.

Some 100 schools took part in the survey, which asked how heads are going about containing the spread of infection among pupils and staff, now that classes are resuming.

Most schools said they are not requiring pupils to wear face masks but in vocational schools, where practical lessons involving machines and food make social distancing difficult, both pupils and teachers are using them.

One trade school on the Wadden Sea island of Terschelling is even using a 100 m2 tent to give pupils and staff more physical space.

At some schools pupils will only wear masks when going from one classroom to another via busy corridors, while others are leaving mask wearing up to the individual.

Most schools have also checked whether or not their ventilation system complies with the rules, with half taking extra measures to improve the flow of air. All are opening windows and doors, the survey found.

Distance

Schools also criticised comments made last week by Outbreak Management Team member Károly Ill – who said pupils should keep one metre distance from each other because they are infectious – were ‘confusing.’

One school head from Alkmaar told the broadcaster ‘it would be nice if experts didn’t speak out of turn and realised what the impact of their comments is on the average teacher’.

Some schools also indicated that confusion and speculation could have been avoided if the cabinet had communicated sooner about whether or not reopening the schools was safe or not.

Possible staff shortages as staff are tested and quarantined  ‘at the smallest sign of a cold’ are also a worry for schools, the survey showed.

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